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COLD HELL review



A religious radical prowls the streets of Vienna, removing the skin of Muslim sex workers while they are still alive before compelling them to drink bubbled cooking oil. A young lady drives a taxi, as the night progresses, every iteration of a terrible human being passes through her cab, each one inching her closer and closer to a rage-fueled breakdown. The film explores the parallel stories of these two individuals whose lives will eventually crash into one another. The most recent film from Oscar-winning Austrian movie producer Stefan Ruzowitzky (The Counterfeiters), Cold Hell (Die Holle) is a merciless tale that wallows in savagery.

Γ–zge Dogruol (Violetta Schurawlow) is the cabbie, whose history of abuse has turned her into a survivor. She continually pushes ahead regardless of what life gives her. She trains at her ex's Thai boxing gym until she gets kicked out for beating the snot out an opponent who throws a sucker punch. She can handle herself and has a strong sense of right and wrong.

After an unpleasant evening in the driver's seat, Γ–zge sets out for home. As she pulls up, she's welcomed with the stench of burnt flesh and boiling blood — she peers out her window and gets a look at the man who tortured and killed her neighbor, but he sees her too, and from that point, the pursuit is on. Schurawlow is convincing from both a physical and emotional perspective. She might be slight in her frame but she carries the confidence and determination of a heavyweight.

The police offer little to no assistance, Officer Steiner (Tobias Moretti) dismisses her claims, leaving her to handle the situation on her own. Her family isn't much help either; her dad's a predator, her mom's complicit, and her closest relative, cousin Ranya (Verena Altenberger), is far too self-involved to listen. When the killer comes searching for Γ–zge, he inadvertently targets Ranya, driving our protagonist to grab up Ranya's young daughter and set out for retribution

COLD HELL is an uncomfortable, tension-filled thriller that stands on its own. What makes this revenge tale stand head and shoulders above the dozen's of other films in this overpopulated sub-genre is the care with which it was executed.  The performances are grounded with evocative camera work that never overshadows the humanity of the story. As batshit crazy as the film gets (and it does), it never fully disconnects from reality. The film vacillates between disturbingly violent imagery and quiet moments of consideration.  The gore might be a bit too much for the faint of heart but the execution makes me want to suggest this film to more than just the Fangoria crowd.

COLD HELL is available on Shudder today. Chick here to start your free trial of the most comprehensive streaming service for horror fans.
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